As much as London might excite with events, astound with quality, exhaust with pleasures and stimulate equally with the utmost beauty and the utmost ugliness it is always the greatest delight for me to return to civilization as I have known it for the past ten years – Lucca and its province. How sublime it is, for example, to drink a decently made (and decently priced) cappuccino speckled with chocolate on top and bite into a fresh croissant filled to the brim with crema pasticciera.
When this heavenly taste bud experience is combined with a relaxed atmosphere free from the piped music which hounds away so many sensitive people in London and other metropolises, where today’s newspapers are freely available, where one can sit in comfortable armchairs, and where the walls are decked with books one may browse or buy then it’s quite correct to acknowledge that home is “ubi bene ibi patria”, as the Romans used to say.
Having an hour to wait for my connection to BdL at Lucca I wandered into a characteristic “caffé letterario” on the ring road facing the city walls. It was the place I’d been dreaming of in the chain-coffee wastelands of London. I really couldn’t understand that city’s inhabitants gripping their polystyrene coffee mugs from one of the chain “coffee” houses and rushing through the streets of the metropolis. A coffee bar is a place to sip one’s beverage in a relaxed fashion and in a decent environment – no wonder Starbucks has failed in Italy and labelled that country a no-go area for its operations.
Opened last October and just round the corner from Lucca’s main station the caffé letterario is just the place to unwind in after a long journey and meet up with one’s friends.
The service is courteous and always accompanied with a smile and one never gets the feeling, as so often in London, that the staff are waiting for you to hurry up consuming your drink and make space for another customer.
Be careful, however: the selection of books in the caffé can be so enticing that one is likely to depart with something heavier than just the pasta one’s eaten. I only resisted the temptation of adding another tome to my back-pack as it was already heavy enough.
Lucca’s caffé letterario has its own facebook page at
which will tell you all about the other events there including readings and book presentations.